DTI: MSME loans worth more than ₱2 billion approved

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 10) — The Department of Trade and Industry, through the Small Business Corporation, has approved a total of ₱2.35 billion loans under its program that targets to help small businesses restart amid the pandemic.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DTI said this translates to a total of 21,695 loan applications under the Bayanihan COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises program.

"Over 20,000 MSMEs [micro, small, and medium enterprises] have already benefitted from this loan portfolio, which has helped businesses survive from permanent closure, recover from the effects of the pandemic, save or even create more jobs, and provide income to millions of Filipinos and their families," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

The pandemic has impacted many economies. In the Philippines, some businesses had no choice but to shut down due to losses incurred with the government's implementation of restrictions on movements of people.

Lopez emphasized that MSMEs are the "key pillar" to the economy, with a contribution of 35.7% to gross domestic product and an employment of 62.5% of the labor force. However, around 38% of 3,000 MSMEs the DTI surveyed were forced to close down from April to June when strict restrictions were in place, he added.

To address this, the government formulated the Bayanihan CARES program, a special loan facility of the SB Corp. for MSMEs adversely affected by the global health crisis. Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, this was allocated with ₱10 billion, wherein businesses can borrow up to ₱5 million, without interest and collateral. A grace period of up to six months is also provided for regular businesses, and up to 12 months for selected industries.

The program is also available to returning overseas Filipino workers who wish to start their own businesses.

Lopez said the process was streamlined and shifted online to be able to reach more businesses. Evaluation can be completed within 7 working days depending on the documents submitted, he noted.